When traces of horsemeat were discovered in European beef supplies, Americans were shocked. But new developments in the horsemeat scandal might prompt us to take a better look at the “beef” in our own supermarkets.
Most Americans don’t eat horsemeat, but they are unaware that the U.S. routinely exports the beef look-alike to Canada and Mexico. Horsemeat was previously banned in the U.S, but the U.S. ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption was lifted in 2011.
In California the ban is still in effect, but an undercover investigation revealed that it does little to protect the animals.
Livestock auctions are where horse traders known as “killer buyers” go to snap up horses for pennies on the dollar. “It’s highly likely that kill buyers are going to scoop up horses that show up at auction,” said Cheryl Jacobson, who heads up equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States.
Jacobson said the auction process is known as the slaughter pipeline. From auction houses, the horses are then trucked to feedlots, and from there to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
“They are packed in there. They have long transportation times without food or water or rest,” Jacobson said.
So far, the meat has not made it into American meat supply, but in Europe an investigation is currently underway for the recalled “beef” products that turned out to be horsemeat.
On Thursday, French authorities confirmed that Britain’s food regulator found six horse carcasses that tested positive for an equine painkiller may have entered the human food chain in France and that horsemeat tainted with the medicine may have been sold to consumers “for some time.”
The horsemeat scandal in Europe spread from Britain to Ireland and suppliers are now being forced to pull their products off the shelf.
Is it just a matter of time before we find horse parts in our meat as well?